Large steaming bowls of the most flavorful broth, long, slurp-worthy noodles, thinly sliced tasty meat, soft-boiled eggs in half, and slivered vegetables are likely what come to mind when you hear the word “ramen.” This hot noodle dish is frequently related to Japanese cuisine and is sold by street vendors as well as in stores and restaurants. Ramen has also become so popular that it has become a traditional meal all across the world. Despite the fact that it may be closely related to Japanese culture, ramen is said to have been created by Chinese immigrants who worked in Japanese shina soba establishments. Nevertheless, Japanese ramen, which combines Chinese wheat noodles with savory Japanese broth, became more popular in the 1930s.
The questions you will wonder: Is ramen Chinese or Japanese?
Additionally, there are currently many different ramen varieties accessible. While having noodles in savory broths and a variety of toppings, both Chinese and Japanese ramen are quite distinct foods. One key contrast between Japanese and Chinese ramen is how frequently it is seasoned. Continue reading to discover additional distinctions between Chinese and Japanese noodle dishes.
The Origin of Ramen
Although we frequently associate ramen with Japan, the Chinese la mian, or “hand-pulled” noodles, served as the inspiration for these noodles. As the L and R sounds in Japanese are the same, some linguists even contend that the word “ramen” itself is an adaptation of la mian.
Yet that does not imply that the two kinds of noodles are equivalent. However, ramen has transformed significantly from its Chinese roots to become a uniquely Japanese cuisine that calls for various preparation methods and ingredients.
La mian noodles are made by hand-pulling wheat flour dough into long threads, as suggested by the name. When oil is used to pull them by hand, they have a considerably softer texture than ramen noodles.
This process is not used to make ramen noodles. Instead, long, noodle-like strands of dough are cut out of it. Also, the components differ considerably. Both wheat flour, salt, and water are used to make them, but ramen noodles also contain kansui as an additional component. Ramen’s unique flavor, color, and texture are attributed to the alkaline ingredient kansui.
What are Japanese Ramen Noodles?
In ramen, Japanese noodles are utilized. It consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a broth with garnishes including sliced pork, nori, menma, green onions, and scallions. Ramen was inspired by Asian noodle dishes. There are variations of the dish from nearly every area of Japan, including tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen from Kyushu and miso ramen from Hokkaido.
Wheat flour, salt, water, and a special ingredient known as kansui are other necessary ingredients for the popular Japanese ramen meal. It is potassium carbonate and sodium carbonate-containing alkaline water. This feature distinguishes Japanese ramen from other types of ramen. The noodles in Japanese ramen have a chewy, slippery feel and a characteristic yellow hue.
How to make Japanese Ramen?
• 1 lb pork
• 6 cups water
• 4 Tbsp soy sauce
• 2 Tbsp sake
• green onions
• bean sprouts
• sesame oil
• sof-boiled egg
1. After salting the pork, put it in the fridge for the night.
2. In a big pot, combine water, salted pork, ginger, garlic, green onions, and a lot of high heat. Eliminate any floating fat and muck.
3. With the lid on and the heat down, simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Let the pot, meat, and broth to warm up to room temperature. After straining, keep the pork. Chop some pork and keep it aside for a garnish.
4. Prepare the remaining garnishes before preparing the broth and noodles (soft-boiled eggs, bean sprouts, and chopped green onions). As soon as the noodles are done cooking, add the broth and toppings to keep them from getting soggy.
How the Noodles Made Their Way to Japan
While it is unclear precisely how or when la mian noodles made their way to Japan and became ramen, most experts concur that it happened when the Tokyo eatery Rai Rai Ken opened its doors in 1910. The noodles were thereafter referred to as “shina soba,” or Chinese soba, by the cooks there. They gave the already well-liked Japanese soba noodles a Chinese makeover.
These noodles’ ubiquity and appeal were aided by their low cost and simplicity of production. They swiftly rose to the top of the food chain for many Japanese from the working class.
The popularity of ramen then increased even further following World War II as a result of the development of instant ramen. Nissin Chikin Ramen, which was invented by Momofuku Ando to aid in feeding the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is now available in almost every supermarket. Since its inception, instant ramen has become quite popular and has included numerous fresh, intriguing, and even simply odd flavors.
He invented cup noodles in 1971, which are even more transportable and simple to manufacture than standard instant ramen. They also gained momentum and popularity very rapidly.
What are Chinese Ramen Noodles?
Hand-pulled lamian noodles, which may have their origins in Mainland China, where wheat has been a staple crop for hundreds of years, are one of the pillars of traditional Chinese cuisine. Several other cuisines might be referred to as “Lamian,” which literally means “pulled noodles,” but few are as often eaten in many Chinese restaurants as regional food made using the Lanzhou method. Chinese hand-stretched noodles are frequently served with thin slices of beef, a bowl of flavorful soup broth, a side of hot chile oil, a few chopped spring onions, and coriander. The meal may be made to taste absolutely exquisite by the springiness of the noodles and the oil that floats out over the long-boiling beef broth.
Lanzhou’s hand-pulled noodles, a cuisine from northern China, may initially seem like simply another bowl of chewy noodles floating in a clear broth, but it is more than that. There are 10 or more ingredients in the aromatic, vivid red chili oil that covers the top of the soup. The soup is prepared with more than 15 different spices, including star anise, cumin, white cardamom, nutmeg, and dried ginger. It is then boiled for at least 15 hours with a variety of beef, yak, and chicken bones.
The Rise of Ramen: How “Chinese Noodles” Became a Japanese Favorite
According to legend, Tokugawa Mitsukuni (1628–1701), the second ruler of the Mito domain, was the first Japanese person to consume ramen (now Ibaraki Prefecture). One story claims that Tokugawa was taught by Zhu Zhiyu (1600–82), a Confucian scholar banished from Ming China, who also gave him “Chinese noodles,” the precursor of modern ramen. The noodles, according to the records, were fashioned from a combination of wheat and lotus flour and were served in a broth. In Ibaraki, a dish with updated ingredients is marketed as “Mito domain ramen.”
The Meiji era (1868–1922) was the first time, though, that these “Chinese noodles” really started to gain popularity among Japanese diners. Noodles and soup were often served with braised pork (chsh), bamboo shoots (menma), and split-open hard-boiled eggs in Chinese eateries across Yokohama. Ramen is sometimes referred as as Chinese soba (chka soba) in Japan because to its roots.
Following World War II, Chinese refugees started selling ramen across the nation, and it quickly overtook Japanese curry as a beloved, straightforward cuisine. Ramen was embraced as a cheap and delicious meal offered from street vendors during that turbulent time when food was in short supply. These little kiosks grew into businesses, which spread quickly throughout Japan.
Since there are now so many stores, there is fierce rivalry, which has given rise to numerous new varieties of ramen, including upmarket versions with crab or lobster on top that can cost up to 10,000 (approximately $100) each bowl. On the other hand, some chains provide ramen for as cheap as 300 yen (about $3). Ramen is fundamentally a cheap, tasty, and fast cuisine, notwithstanding the rare pricey bowl, and most cooks work to provide the maximum variation possible within those limitations.
How to make Chinese Ramen?
• 1 kg beef shank
• 10 cups water
• 1 pound lamian noodles
For the spice mix:
• 12 garlic cloves
• 5 bay leaves
• 6 slices of sand ginger
• 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
• 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
• 5 licorice root slices
- Clean and dry the soup bones first. Then bake them on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Place the beef shank in a large saucepan of just-boiling water. Take the beef shank out of the boiling water.
- Include the beef shank in the pot together with the roasted bones, 10 cups of water, and 4 cups of beef stock. The spice combination is prepared by combining all the components. It is then tightly wrapped in cheesecloth using a tiny bit of kitchen twine. This should also be salted and added to the pot. Everything should come to a boil.
- Once the mixture boils, turn down the heat to low and let it simmer for almost two hours. After two hours, take off the beef shank and leave it aside. Then, use tongs to remove and then throw away the steak and spice packet. Adjust the spice as needed and season the soup to taste.
- Following the completion of the soup, prepare the noodles in a big saucepan. There should be six separate meals for noodles. Slices of chilled, finely sliced beef shank are placed on top of the noodles.
- Add a sizable ladle of soup, a handful of finely chopped cilantro and green onion, a teaspoon of hot chile oil, Chinese dumplings, and radishes to complete the meal.
With the debate of ramen’s origin continuing to rage, it is clear that both China and Japan have had a major influence on the development of this iconic dish. Despite its own unique cultural context, ramen has been heavily adopted in both countries, becoming an essential component in theiir respective cuisines. Although certain localities may take credit for the ramen we all know and love today, it should be remembered that it was Japanese immigration that helped solidify the dish’s popularity in mainland China. On a larger scale, ramen stands as a perfect example of how cultures, regardless of geographical boundaries, can come together to create something truly special. As with many food histories around the world, we likely will never know exactly where ramen came from. But one thing is certain; we do not need to declare Chinese or Japanese as our ultimate winner – since both cultures enabled us to enjoy this fabulous dish!
As we have seen, ramen is arguably both a Chinese and a Japanese dish. Although it was said to have been invented in China, the Japanese have taken this simple recipe and turned it into an artform. Ramen can be seen nowadays as part of both cultures and appreciated by people of all backgrounds. Thus, when asking if ramen is Chinese or Japanese at its core, the answer can simply be: both. By creating something that transcends language, culture and border walls we celebrate the human need for connection. So why not enjoy some wholesome noodles with family and friends while learning more about the fascinating history behind this dish? If you want to learn more feel free to contact us at Angelo’s Burgers anytime!